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Global climate change and infectious diseases.

Centers for Disease Control
Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Earth Science
  • Medicine


L:LINKTFH5PM6v4n3 ront.PDF 451Vol. 4, No. 3, July–September 1998 Emerging Infectious Diseases Special Issue Climate change, if it occurs at the level projected by current global circulation models, may have important and far-reaching effects on infectious diseases, especially those transmitted by poikilothermic arthropods such as mosquitoes and ticks. Although most scientists agree that global climate change will influence infectious disease transmission dynamics, the extent of the influence is uncertain. This conference session provided an overview of the issues associated with climate change as it relates to the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Two papers set the stage by reviewing data that support or do not support the conclusion that climate change has already influenced transmis- sion of infectious diseases. Some studies support such conclusions as warming at higher eleva- tions, including the retreat of tropical summit glaciers, upward plant displacement, elevational shifts in insect populations and vector-borne diseases, and upward shift of the freezing isotherm (150 m, which is equivalent to 1°C warming) since 1970. Other studies, however, point out that in centuries past, vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever occurred regularly in temperate regions in epidemic form during the summer months. The diseases were eliminated from Europe and North America, and although many areas still have the mosquito vectors, epidemic disease transmission has been prevented by improved living conditions and effective mosquito control. Also, since malaria has historically occurred at elevations of 2,400 m to 2,600 m, its current transmission at high altitudes does not necessarily prove that transmission at these high altitudes is the result of climate change. The second set of papers provided current evidence of global climate change and described how climatologic data might be used to understand geographic spread and transmission dynamics of an important e

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